Week 2: STRANGERS ON A TRAIN
Based on the novel of the same name, "Strangers on a Train" is a one of those Hitchcockian noir films that MotR just adores -- full of beautifully shot, sordid, shadow-y intrigue. Though now #32 on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills list, it was not a commercial success initially and received only one (unsuccessful) nomination for an Academy Award in 1951.
The novel "Strangers on a Train" was Patricia Highsmith's first novel, published the year before (1950). Hitchcock bought the screenplay rights to the novel anonymously to keep the price down and paid just $7500. Ms. Highsmith (who also authored "The Talented Mr. Ripley") was not amused by the rouse when she discovered the identify of the purchaser.
This movie includes a real life stunt that Hitchcock claimed was the "most dangerous [stunt] ever performed under his direction". The stunt takes place at a carnival carousel, where a man climbs under the moving ride. It was performed not by a professional stuntperson but a regular carnival employee. Afterwards Hitchcock said he would never allow a stunt that dangerous to happen again.